Downtown SF packed, but economy still felt

Downtown San Francisco was certainly brimming with shoppers this morning – but The City’s sidewalks and retail centers were not as clogged as in years past, a sign that the economy may still be lingering on people’s minds.

Seas of shoppers toting bags stocked with gifts streamed in and out of large retail centers such as the Westfield San Francisco Centre and Macy’s in Union Square.  Many wanted to get their holiday shopping done early, while the shelves are still filled with discounted items.

Others hoped to capitalize on the many bargains touted in storefront windows.

While walking out of Old Navy on Market Street, where advertisements proclaim that “everything in the store” is on sale, Lauren McKinnis, 46, of Emeryville, said she came into The City with family to get her holiday “shopping duties” out of the way and to visit the Union Square ice rink.

“I wish it were a nicer day,” McKinnis said.

The City’s downtown area would have been busier if the day was sunnier and warm, some shoppers agreed.

Experts had predicted lower-than-usual turnout on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving that officially launches the holiday shopping season.

While the economy has improved since last year, retailers are wary that consumers strapped by tight credit limits and unemployment will continue to spend less on gifts.

Warren Hong, 79, of the Richmond District, said he thinks the economy is still bad and would rather his wife and daughter not buy him anything this year.

“I don’t need anything,” he said.

Still, the economy didn’t stop throngs of San Franciscans and visitors from taking advantage of early-bird bargains. Popular retailers such as American Eagle and Hot Topic boasted buy one, get the second 50-percent off deals to lure customers into their stores.

“I already have a rocking horse picked out for my son,” said Michelle Forrest, 32, a South of Market resident.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

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